Life Goes On For He’s Fully 5!

20140801_182059These last several weeks have been hard to do the things that I need to do. 聽I wake up, do our breakfast routine and then the computer gets opened. Facebook news read with all the news from the morning hours in Israel. Muqata’s Facebook page gets scanned for those unfortunate brave souls that are no longer physically with us along with any other links. I do my morning routine with the boys and try not to look until around lunch time and then the news article reading starts again. And again in the afternoon and evening. It is like an addiction. And then it hits me. Looking at the what my friends and family are doing in Israel I see one thing in common (besides all the comments about the mamads (bomb shelters,) They are still going to museums, still going to the beach, still going out for dinner, etc. Still. Yes, there multiple sirens in the day that do interrupt things, however they do not let it stop their living. They work, they play, they learn, they live.

I might be physically away from what is happening, but emotionally and spiritually we are close, we all are. We have our soldier, our chayal, that we daven for and learn for, along with the rest of the soldiers. But just like my friends and family in Israel, we too have to keep on living. We alter our day a little bit and we think about different things now but we continue. Life does not stand still.

I was reminded about this need聽to remember to live life for my little one, who is not so little anymore, turned fully 5 last week (after having both his English and then his Hebrew birthday.) It is not my constant worrying that will make a difference, it is the mitzvos that we do is what is going to really make a difference. I hope that this week will be easier for me to get motiviated and do more of the many things I need to do; organizing for next school year, getting my oldest ready for college, trying to just clean, etc. In other words,聽I need to remember to live.

As we are closing in on the saddest day of the year, Tisha B’Av (9th of Av), which starts tonight, I have been trying to do some self introspection (a second Rosh Hashanah maybe, or perhaps for once just a really good head start to Rosh Hashanah?) Wishing everyone an easy fast and may we all instill in ourselves baseless love for everyone so we can have the final redemption.

A Freilichen Purim!

20140311_163628Finally, I get a few spare moments to breathe. The last while I have felt like I have been going in circles, but it has usually been good. Somehow I have not been able to get much done other than teach and today I seem to have some time, but with it being a fast day, I am not doing much for I know if I do then it will come back to bite me.

A few weeks ago one little (or big?) boy of 4 decided he was going to be a big boy, and while I was busy teaching his older brothers he went around the house and did chores such as emptying the dishwasher and putting most things away, all by himself and ripping toilet paper for Shabbos (and they were all in even square strips!) When asked why he thought of those ideas, he responded that he did not want his brothers to have to do the work. <3 <3 <3

The weather has been absolutely crazy this winter. It was not so much the snow that came, but the COLD that came along with it. Yeah, yeah, I have friends and family who will remind me that I grew up in the cold and I should be used to it. I’m a wimp, and I’m tired of the cold temperatures hovering around 0 F and below (-17 C and below). I do not mind it staying around the freezing mark; I like the change in weather, the snow, the crisp air, etc. and then the warming up and seeing the new buds. It is also hard to send the boys outside to stretch their legs. Many times we had to tell our oldest not to walk to shul in the mornings for it was just too cold, or icy, or windy. Things were just starting to look a bit warmer this week and it was gorgeous for the chassanah that we attended on Monday, but that was just a little Purim joke. And to mention that many of those people have moved out of the cold climate themselves.

On Tuesday afternoon we played some hookie with the weather rising to about 57 F! Actually, it was not hookie, it was a much needed stretch of the legs for everyone, you see, I feel very proud of myself for when I told my oldest that we were going to play hookie, he looked at me and said, “Huh? What’s20140312_121042 that?” Ditching school and taking advantage of the amazing weather to finally get a chance to stretch legs and soak in some sunshine and fresh air for more than 2 minutes really is part of schooling, and he understands that as such. 馃榾 Most of the snow was gone and one boy even wore shorts. Then came the rest of the Purim joke – Late Tuesday night/ early Wednesday morning it started to come. It came and it came and it came. Boy, did it come. Within 24 hours we had about 16 inches of white stuff all over the ground. My oldest used the snow blower at least twice on the driveway, the last time being around 5pm. DH and I went out for a Sheva Brachos and came back at around 9 pm and it was a miracle we made it not only home without getting stuck, but into our driveway! The snow was higher than the bottom of our van! And that was just 4 hours worth of it.

Schooling itself has just been okay. I put our schedule up on our living room wall for all to see. It is a good schedule, I just find myself missing out on things every week. I think the problem is more me than the boys. I have to really have my mindset to be ready by 8 am. We are not scheduled to daven until 8:30 am but I have noticed that my mind is just not ready. Something for me to work on. It is nice to have some quiet/me time before we start and I am up and physically ready, just mentally I am not. Perhaps if I take the time the boys are getting themselves ready (7:45-8:30), i.e. cleaning one bathroom, sweeping the floor, or other small task, I will feel a bit accomplished right at the beginning and that will help motivate me. I did notice that this morning when we got up at 5:45 am to eat a bit before the fast and I took about half an hour to wipe the kitchen counters and table and straighten the living room. I did have the drive to continue on, and would have if it were not a fast day.聽So, that will be my next task.

20140311_163641We did go out on Tuesday night to get some more firewood in anticipation of the cold weather the next day. We did order a cord of firewood in late December, but with the extreme temperatures (my husband told me this morning that this has been the coldest winter since 1912!) we had only 4 logs left. We had a nice fire for a few hours yesterday. 聽I would have started one more fire today, but there was not enough to make it worthwhile.

In the meantime, I need to make supper now – have to feed some bellies! Wishing everyone a Freilichen Purim!

p.s. Just an update on our new bookshelves – it really has helped out a lot. Some days it gets messy, but it is really easy for boys to pick up the books and they are so enjoying all the beanbags we have in there as well!

Thoughts on Tisha B’Av

I hope you will forgive me if this post is not so into homeschooling like I would usually write.

I don’t do well with fasts usually, I think the big reason is because I have children and I have to move around.聽 My boys are, B”H, all getting bigger, and I was able to rest in bed most of the morning. With some migraine medicine I am still very functional, slow, but functional and for that I’m very thankful.

As I am typing, I have approximately 1.5 hours left of the fast.聽 Yesterday I went to a little learning group and as we were leaving, we were discussing that really is not that we should all have easy fasts (though we hope we all do,) it is that we should all have a purposeful fast.聽 All day today I tried to figure out how to have a purposeful fast.聽 What is the meaning of today, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar?聽 Of course there are the physical things we do such as not eating or drinking for 25 hours, sitting on low stools for half the day, not wearing leather and not anointing ourselves, but these are only for the outside, the physical body, what about the spiritual part of our body, our souls?聽 What are we suppose to do for that?

So, the big question is – what happened to cause this day to be such a sad day?聽 We know that there have been so many calamities that happened on this day – both the first and second Bait Hamikdash were destroyed, the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, the Inquisition of Spain in 1492, World War I was declared, and many others (see Ohr Samayah).聽 Why?聽 Why on this particular day?

We know over 2000 years ago, Hashem had just taken us out of Egypt with 10 amazing plagues, He split the sea for us to cross, gave us heavenly food to eat and we had just received the Torah.聽 We were poised and ready to enter the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey.聽 But even after all of this, we were not sure.聽 Was it really a land flowing with milk and honey?聽 Could we REALLY believe Hashem?聽 Huh?聽 After all that we still doubted Hashem?聽 It is true.聽 We wanted to send spies to the promised land to verify what Hashem really said was true.聽 Hashem let us.聽 Twelve spies were sent to scope the land and then come and relate a report to the rest of us.聽 Then, a terrible thing happened. Ten of the spies told a negative report.聽 They spoke lashon hara.聽 Not only that, we believed the lashon hara and we spend the entire night crying.聽 Crying for nothing.

Hashem then told us that since we cried for nothing that night, the night of Tisha B’Av, that would be a day where we would cry for something.聽 Wow!聽 Hashem was being so cruel you may say.聽 Just because we cried, Hashem made this day to be full of terrible calamity for us.聽 Isn’t Hashem suppose to be loving and kind and caring?聽 This does not sound like a loving and kind and caring Hashem!

Let us take a look at the report that the spies brought back.聽 Yes, they said the land was indeed flowing with milk and honey and the huge fruits they brought back showed that.聽 However, there were also giants that lived in the land.聽 The spies said “讘职注值讬谞值讬谞讜旨 讻址旨讞植讙指讘执讬诐 讜职讻值谉 讛指讬执讬谞讜旨 讘职旨注值讬谞值讬讛侄诐” (Bamidbar/Number 23:33) – “…In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.”聽 Meaning, we FELT like grasshoppers so they must have thought we were.聽 The giants never said they thought we were, but we thought so, therefore we must be. 聽Grasshoppers cannot defeat giants.聽 We gave up before we even tried!

Who are we to say what we are capable or not capable of聽achieving聽without even trying?聽 We did not believe Hashem – the All Knowing, the One who created each one of us, the One who knows better than we what we are capable of, the One who performed all those miracles – and instead, we believed the lashon hara spoken.聽 It turns out it was a punishment that we brought upon ourselves.聽 It was us who turned this day into a day of mourning.

My older boys have been kvetching about each other all week.聽 Someone is always seemingly hurting another, and it is obviously always on purpose.聽 Obviously… to them, but not to me.聽 I finally sat them down and told them (again) the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza.聽 In short, a wealthy man had a friend, Kamtza, and an enemy, Bar Kamtza.聽 This man threw a party and the servant accidentally invited Bar Kamtza.聽 Bar Kamtza thought this man wanted to make up with him and went to the party, only to find out that it was all a mistake and the host was upset his enemy showed up.聽 After repeated attempts by Bar Kamtza to pay for part, half and then all of the party just so he would not feel embarrassed about being thrown out, his pleas were refused.聽 Not a single rabbi or guest at the party said anything to help alleviate the anger and tension between the two men.聽 In the end, Bar Kamtza set up a trick to get the Caesar upset with the Jews.聽 Not only did the Caesar get upset, but he destroyed the Bais Hamikdash. (See a more complete story here.)

We sat and talked about what that all means – to have strife amongst people, to always feel that people are out to get you.聽 What does that kind of thinking bring you?聽 The destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.聽 When we have strife with others, we are thinking only of ourselves and not anyone else.聽 We talked about how lucky they were to be able to become close friends with each other.聽 Most siblings are friends with peers, but not their siblings.聽 Friends will come and go, but siblings will always be there, no matter where everyone lives.聽 Baruch Hashem, my sister and I are very close, however, that only happened after we were both married. My boys have the opportunity to create an even greater bond by starting out loving each other now. 聽If I hand someone a stick, they will be able to break it very easily, however, if I give them 20 sticks in a bundle, they will most likely not be able to break it.聽 The same goes for brothers and sisters who are close and care for each other. 聽When we are all united, we cannot be broken.

Okay, so they understand that they need to love each other and help each other, but what really does that mean?聽 That means they need to start giving each other the benefit of the doubt.聽 Instead of coming to me crying every time someone touches them so that they can tell me what the other person did and get that person into trouble, it means they need to believe that people are not out to get them.聽 When someone touches them, or hurts them, they need to believe that person did not purposely mean to hurt them.聽 Perhaps the person did not know they were there, perhaps the person was just wanting to get their attention and did not realized what they did hurt.聽 It also could be that you got them angry and they reacted.

Whatever the case is, if we can have a more positive outlook at everyone – giving them the benefit of the doubt, that will prevent strife and help create love for others.聽 When we have love for each other we are united and hard to break – just like the bundle of sticks. 聽As this fast is coming to a close (just a couple more minutes over here – and yes, it has taken me that long to write and cuddle kids, and send them to bed!) let us take a few moments and reflect on our lives. 聽How is it that *I* can create less strife? 聽Who am I angry with and how can I resolve the conflict? 聽Are they really out to get me, or am I taking things out of context? 聽Should I be giving anyone the benefit of the doubt? 聽How can I create more ahavas yisroel (literally: love of Israel – more love for each Jew)?

When we are united we are no longer thinking just about ourselves, we are watching out for the entire Jewish nation. 聽We are also more careful to not speak lashon hara. 聽It is up to each one of us. 聽You may be thinking this is a hard and unimaginable task, however, remember not to quit before you try. 聽We *CAN* do it, we just have to try. 聽Let us not cry for no reason any more. 聽Let us trust in Hashem that we really can. 聽It is at this time Hashem will bring Moshiach, the third and final Bais Hamikdash and the final redemption, speedily in our days.